「戦争と平和」で共演した女優オードリー・ヘプバーンさんと５４年に結婚。テレビ版「うたかたの恋」（５７）で夫婦で共演し、「緑の館」（５９）はフェ ラー氏が監督、ヘプバーンさんが主演した。ヘプバーンさんが事件に巻き込まれる盲目の妻を演じた「暗くなるまで待って」（６７）ではプロデューサーを務め た。６８年に離婚し、フェラー氏は４人目の妻と再婚した。
Mel Ferrer, Reluctant Star, Dies at 90
Mel Ferrer, who disliked acting in films as much as he loved directing them but who nevertheless made his name in front of the cameras in movies like “The Brave Bulls,” “Lili” and “War and Peace,” died Monday at his ranch near Santa Barbara, Calif. He was 90.
His death was announced by a family spokesman.
Mr. Ferrer was also widely known for his ties with Audrey Hepburn, his wife of 14 years. He directed and acted with her on-screen and produced an acclaimed thriller, “Wait Until Dark,” in which she starred.
To television viewers, Mr. Ferrer was familiar as the lawyer (and later husband) of the Jane Wyman character on “Falcon Crest,” the CBS nighttime soap opera, which ran from 1981 to 1990.
Mr. Ferrer made his directing debut with a low-budget remake of “The Girl of the Limberlost” (1945), the story of a widow who inflicts her grief on her children. But it was in theater, in New York, that he began his career. On Broadway his credits included acting in the 1945 stage adaptation of Lillian Smith’s “Strange Fruit,” about an ill-fated interracial love affair in a Georgia town, and directing José Ferrer (no relation) in “Cyrano de Bergerac” in 1946.
Still hoping to make it as a Hollywood director, he returned to California and worked as John Ford’s assistant on the 1947 classic “The Fugitive.”
But again, acting roles came his way. Tall, lean and darkly handsome, Mr. Ferrer made his first credited screen appearance in “Lost Boundaries” (1949), in which he won praise for his portrayal of a light-skinned black doctor passing for white.
That part led to a role as an artist in “Born to Be Bad” (1950), which starred Joan Fontaine as a predatory beauty. But with “The Brave Bulls” (1951), Mr. Ferrer became a star.
Directed by Robert Rossen, the film told the story of a man who has risen from humble beginnings to become Mexico’s most idolized matador. Outwardly heroic, the matador is torn by inner doubts, and Mr. Ferrer’s performance was convincing.
Indeed, the role was very much a reflection of his own state of mind. He had more than once been heard to say how much he disliked acting, which he called “a self-conscious business.” He described himself as “a screaming schizoid,” an introvert disguised as an extrovert.
But he continued to act. In “Scaramouche” (1952), a swashbuckler set in 18th-century France, he fought a climactic duel with Stewart Granger. And then there was “Lili” (1953), in which he gave what many considered his best performance, as a lame carnival puppeteer who befriends an orphan girl played by Leslie Caron.
Mr. Ferrer donned boots and sword again as a Russian nobleman who joins the fight against Napoleon in “War and Peace” (1956). Directed by King Vidor, the film featured Hepburn, a beautiful young actress whom Mr. Ferrer had married in 1954.
Earlier that year, they had appeared together on Broadway in “Ondine.” Adapted from a story by Jean Giraudoux, with music by Virgil Thomson, it was the mythological tale of a water sprite’s doomed love affair with an egotistical knight-errant. Hepburn won a Tony Award, as did the show’s director, Alfred Lunt.
Mr. Ferrer directed Hepburn in the 1959 film “Green Mansions,” about a fugitive (Anthony Perkins) who finds love in a South American jungle. In “Wait Until Dark,” the 1967 thriller Mr. Ferrer produced, Hepburn played a blind woman terrorized in her apartment by drug smugglers.
Mr. Ferrer’s marriage to Hepburn ended in divorce in 1968. She died in 1993. Mr. Ferrer had earlier been married and divorced three times, to Frances Pilchard, to Barbara Tripp and again to Ms. Pilchard. He had five children, including a son, Sean, with Hepburn. In 1971, Mr. Ferrer married his fourth wife, Elizabeth Soukhotine, who survives him, as do his children and several grandchildren.
Melchior Gaston Ferrer was born in Elberon, N.J., on Aug. 25, 1917. His father was a Cuban-born surgeon, his mother a Manhattan socialite. He attended private schools and studied at Princeton University but dropped out. He worked for a Vermont newspaper, moved to Mexico to write a novel, wrote a children’s book, “Tito’s Hats,” and became a dancer on Broadway.
In the early 1940s, after recovering from polio, he found work as a disc jockey and then in television at NBC. Soon he was in Hollywood directing “The Girl of the Limberlost.”
Mr. Ferrer’s later screen credits, in the 1950s and ’60s, included “The Sun Also Rises” (1957), “The World, the Flesh and the Devil” (1959), the World War II epic “The Longest Day” (1962) and “Sex and the Single Girl” (1964). In 1966 he was the star and also a producer of “El Greco,” a poorly received portrait of the 16th-century painter.
By then Mr. Ferrer was spending an increasing amount of time in Europe. He bought a home in Lausanne, Switzerland, and acted in and directed low-budget European films. He had a heart attack in the late 1960s.
Two of his more notable later appearances were in “Brannigan” (1975), with John Wayne and Richard Attenborough as lawmen and Mr. Ferrer as a conspiratorial lawyer, and “Lili Marleen” (1981), directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, in which Mr. Ferrer played a Swiss businessman who helps rescue Jews from Nazi Germany.
For all his acting success, however, Mr. Ferrer remained ambivalent about it. “I curl up inside and freeze when I have to act,” he once said in an interview. “I much prefer sitting on the sidelines and trying to get the best out of other people.”